TxDOT asks local law enforcement to enforce state law, while candidates avoid being fined

Local News

PENITAS, Texas (KVEO)— Election day is approaching in a matter of weeks and tensions are running high at polling sites.

One city in the Rio Grande Valley enforces the state law around electioneering, while candidates focus on receiving fines.

“Voters are being intimidated along with candidates,” said La Joya school board candidate Claudia Ochoa. 

La Joya school board candidate Claudia Ochoa says she is the only candidate to be ticketed by the city of Peñitas for electioneering near the public library.

“We feel that we have been targeted by the police and city officials here in the city of Peñitas,” said Ochoa. 

Like Ochoa, one of her opponents had a tent that was taken away, but unlike Ochoa they did not get a ticket. 

“One of the candidates I believe did get a citation, we did not get a citation—I don’t know why—they refused to give us a citation, and our tent was missing as of Saturday morning,” said La Joya school board candidate Lenora Garcia.

The city attorney says the highway in front of the public library is owned by the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) and political signage is illegal by state law. 

“The city of Peñitas is not prohibiting people from being ther — the Texas Department of Transportation prohibits people from being there,” said Caso. 

Caso explains that TxDOT will not enforce the law and has left it up to the city’s law enforcement instead. 

“I am not here to sway anybody any which way,” said Mayor Rigo Lopez. “We are going to follow the law here in the city of Peñitas for the protection of our community.” 

Mayor Lopez encourages his community to go out and vote despite the city’s politics. 

A copy of the TxDOT law stating political signage is prohibited:

Copy of the city of Peñitas most current city ordinance about electioneering:

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